View Full Version : I'm thinking of adding this service what do i need

04-14-2002, 11:09 AM
Ok I'm thinking about adding this to my mowing business. I am looking into either using John Deere Landscapes or Hunter irrigation systems. What kind of trenchers do you all use and what should I expect to pay for one? What other tools will I need?

04-14-2002, 09:44 PM
Irrigation isn't something you just go do. In some states a license is required. Irrigation is about engineering. Get an irrigation education first and then work for someone doing installs and service. Learn how to properly price your work not just listen toa distributor that says $100 for a rotor and $50 for a spray. If you think its about trenchers, John Deere and Hunter or don't have the time to get properly educated and skilled stay home. You'll be a disservice to clients and a disaster to yourself if you don't take this very seriously.

04-14-2002, 10:45 PM
I'm thinking of going into brain surgery......a client of mine asked me for a quote so I gave him one. I will start a new thread...but until then, all you brain surgeons: Could you please tell me how you price your brain surgeries........the medical supply sales rep told me if the person is a left brained thinker than I should charge 5,000 dollars per lobe otherwise it should be 3500 per lobe. any input would be much appreciated.

04-14-2002, 10:56 PM
:laugh: :D :laugh: Good one.

04-15-2002, 12:17 AM
Hey guys thanks for being a smart ass. If it will make you feel any better I have been involved with sprinklers before and I've got a degree in turf management. Now if you guys aren't going to be helpful keep your mouths shut and just laugh in silence.

04-15-2002, 09:31 AM
It is one thing to give good advice, but quite another to just be smart a....es. I just became aquaited with Lawnsite in the last few months. I find that there is a lot of good information here.

I have been active in many state and national organizations, and I found that exchanging ideas and info is one of the greatest benefits of an association. Remember we all started somewhere.

One of the first posts I made was answere with a put down. I didn't post again for over a month. I've decided that there are too many good sincere people here to ditch everyone for the unprofessionalisms of the few.

I find it hard to beleive that some of you preach professionalism and then answere with the put downs and smart comments that you do.

Doug Austreim
Past President National Landscape Assn

04-15-2002, 09:56 AM
C'mon Doug get a life. Read his post again. He thinks John Deere makes sprinklers! If he had been involved in sprinklers before he would realize that they don't. It just really cracks most of us SPRINKLER PROFESSIONALS that have put in 25 years or so that people just one day decide to get involved in this field. And then ask a question that is so general, just funny.

Listen, I don't mean to make fun but do you see my point? You can't just decide to add sprinklers to your services. And you certainly aren't going to get the tools and info you need from this board. There are some real great sprinkler guys on here but this type of forum is not the place for teaching. If you had some knowledge we could help with specifics. But not teach you to be us just by hunting and pecking a few keys.

Help is one thing, and I am sure all of us here are glad to give it as soon as we figure out what to do to help. When a question like this is asked, there is no help that can be given. I didn't mean to offend, just to bring a little light to the fact that what HB said is true, you don't just decide one day to be an irrigator.

By the way dude, you will need WAY THICKER skin than what you just showed to make it in the irrigation business!

04-15-2002, 10:36 AM
Call our posts tough love rempered with reality. Call us bitter because of the jobs that have been taken away from us by "contractors" that don't know squat. Everyone that doesn't know anything doing irrigation is like a thief to me. Thjey are stealing my profession and the profession of others like me.

Folks read all these magazine article success stories and information about branching out and they think it's like NIKE "Just do it".

The articles and and lots of other advisory people don't tell or don't know of all book learning and educational time that is required to be successful and knowledgeable.

Personally I've seen a lot of hackers come and go and some are still in the business BS-ing clients or potential ones, then the results are not what was expected. Another burn job.

Having a turf degree doesn't mean you know squat about irrigation. It means you know about turf and how it is cultured. It is not the same although what you know is very valuable in irrigation.

Having a hort degree gives me a leg up over other irrigagtiors that know irrigation but don't know plants, turf, soils etc.

Get yourself certified through the Irrigation Association (http://www.IA.org) then you'll have a fundamentally good back ground even if you don't have experience.

After 6 years and 3 $300 dollar licenses I still have too many unlicensed guys taking food out of my mouth here in NJ. And personally I'm making every effort to dime them out.

04-15-2002, 12:13 PM
Just for your info, John Deere is the largest distributor of irrigation products in the country.

No one was born knowing anything about landscaping and irrigation. You all started somewhere. Everyone on this site was the unwelcome competitor at one time or another. It is one thing to offer tough advice, quite another to blow these people off with a smart comment. If you want to be a professtional talk and act like one.

Doug Austreim
Austreim Landscaping Inc

04-15-2002, 02:05 PM
As a matter of fact John Deere Landscapes has just recently bought a very large sprinkler manufacturer.

04-15-2002, 04:40 PM
you said:

As a matter of fact John Deere Landscapes has just recently bought a very large sprinkler manufacturer.

You know so much........who did they buy? Man what news!!!
Come on! They bought out McMillin Farms and Century Rain Aid and a handful of other small DISTRIBUTORS! Not manufacturers. I can see it now.......bright green and yellow lawn heads and timers........OLD NEWS

Doug, I see from your past posts that you are a very gregarious, patient and helpful guy to all the guys asking questions about the pest and app business. That is just great.....takes all kinds. I just happen to get a little pissy with newbies that ask very general questions and then try to back it up with stuff they know nothing about. John Deere DOES NOT MAKE SPRINKLERS!!!!!

I am truly sorry for hurting your feelings you two, obvious to me now that my barbs were pointed in the wrong direction.....from now on I will laugh in silence and hope that you don't come to my market........I mean markets.

By the way, Hazel? How did you get a degree in Turf Management by quitting college? Was it one of those tech school ones? Not a knock, just curious.....

04-15-2002, 07:36 PM
Over the years, one of my competitors has gotten excited everytime someone new came on the scene. Thirty years ago, he was the largest company in the area. Today he is one of the smallest. When he should have been worrying about his own business and his own customers, he was burning up all his energy fretting about the new guys.

The new people will take care of themselves. They will either learn and succeed, or they will fail, but there will always be another one. Over the years, I have extended a helping hand to every new person that asked, just as I was helped when I started. You can help the newcomer learn and become a good competior, or you can refuse and let him continue bumbling along hurting himself, hiscustomers and the industry as a whole.

Doug Austreim
Austreim Landscaping Inc

04-15-2002, 08:41 PM
Originally posted by SprinklerGuy
I'm thinking of going into brain surgery......a client of mine asked me for a quote so I gave him one. I will start a new thread...but until then, all you brain surgeons: Could you please tell me how you price your brain surgeries........the medical supply sales rep told me if the person is a left brained thinker than I should charge 5,000 dollars per lobe otherwise it should be 3500 per lobe. any input would be much appreciated.

I can't stop laughing!!!

04-15-2002, 08:45 PM

On a question asked in this manner, I'm agreeing with you guys.

I guess what got me is he's thinking about adding this service to his menu, yet the first thing that he wants to know is how much he'll have to pay for a trencher, and what are the tools needed to perform the work!

On a question like that you have to be asking for a smartass type of answer!

I'm not trying to start anything, but you should have been expecting it....

04-15-2002, 09:09 PM
OK, we're a little like Dr. Laura & Dr. Phil and the info and advice are genuine. It's about time people stop sugar coating what guys want to here and deal with the facts.

Read all of my posts and see what has happened here in NJ when the Distributors encouraged every Tom, Dick and Harry to get into the business because there is money in it. There is only money in it today if you got in early and got you act together today. We're full and we don't need any more contractors. The pie is sliced so small that Weight Watchers would let you have 4 or 5 servings. There are also enough competant contractors to meet the demand so what does anyone new have to offer? And there are way too many scammers even with licensing that will sell at cost times 2 or x $ a head, far below what it costs to operate.

There are times when you must make a business decision to do or not to do and if there is not a significant opportunity you stay home. This isn't about I can do that, it's about is there a significant growth opportunity for me. Then, if you don't know anything, you ask how and where do I learn. You don't ask about what trencher to buy and suppliers or manufacturers to use.

Lots can be said for youth, enthusiasm and energy but lets don't cast the requisite technical skills and business knowledge aside. They come first.

Irrigation requires complete dedication as another enterprise even when starting out. There are suplies to inventory, schedules to be made, service to br rendered. Irrigation clients are not like lawn clients. They are impatient and demanding. You don't go there when you in the area or in the mood. You go by appointment most of the time.

I started by spending 3 days in the classroom not just doing a little reading. I did minor head repair/replacement. I built a system for myself "by the book" and it worked great. I asked technical questions before proceeding. I forged an alliance with an old school counter man that had been in the field for years and worked for a company that did things by the book. I listened to him and I took his advice. He was just as crusty and onery as we are here. But tough and fair teachers are what make men and business men.

Irrigation is engineering, business, customer service and agronomy, horticulture and more. Installs are way more risky than landscaping because you gotta make something work. If you bid either one wrong it can cost you a job or cost you money but the landscape is always gonna work. That is not true with irrigation.

Irrigation looks easy and profitable because of those of us that have been educated in school and in the field and have made good business decisions. If you want to succeed, imitate us and improve and adapt where you can.

Anyone coming here to this forum that has asked a sound question has gotten good info in return. Those that have asked questions without fully explaining themselves or been a little off the wall with non-chalance, ignorance or whatever are sometimes slapped back to reality with a bucket of cold water in their faces.

We're not afraid of good competition. But we're deathly afraid of ignorant competion because the playing field is never level, the game is never over and the prize to be won is always mutilated or destroyed. Give me a worthy competitor anyday where the merit of knowledge and experience garner the work.

04-15-2002, 11:27 PM
OK I got a call 2 weeks ago with a message saying "I want to talk to you about an interesting project. Call me 555 - ..." So I called the guy and it wasn't about an install project like I thought. This guy was looking for a career change, worked at a local (large) tech company, burned out from the job, was mid/late 40's (I think), and had found a local sprinkler company for sale. He was trying to get some insight about the industry, local growth, is there enough work for more comps, and would I possibly want to partner up.

Well I learned the hard and right way. I worked for a co. for 2 years installing, did his repairs and service for 2 more, then went on my own. Why should I give all my hard earned knowledge to someone who thinks they want to buy into this business the easy way? He just picked me and others out of the phone book and started calling.

I don't think he realizes the hard sweaty work, the feast or famine style of work here, the 40/50 repair calls on a Monday, the tight labor market for GOOD help, and if he hires techs for service, they are going to have to speak English.

I have over 35 companies refer service and repair work to me because they know my reputation. They know what I have learned, not what I may have bought into. Is this something I would have CHOSEN to go into? No. But it is what I had gotten into early, learned it well, learned it right, and still haven't made much money. I too get tired of seeing any guy with a shovel, wheel barrow and a station wagon (or El Camino) think they are a landscaper or sprinkler installer.

If you are going to get into it, learn it correctly, learn it well, get licensed if required (none here other than cross connection for backflow installation), and don't piss the rest of us off by installing a crappy job that I will be fixing later on.

04-16-2002, 12:49 AM
John Deere makes sprinklers?????

I had to walk away from my puter after reading that statemant.

Help can be found on here, but research or think about your question before your ask.


By the way, HazellLawnCare, I can tell you how much a trencher would cost you, but what good would it do you if your local dealers don't carry the parts or order the parts for that brand of trencher. Second, as the saying goes, if your asking how much, you can't afford it.

04-16-2002, 01:17 AM
Wouldn't it make sense to rent several different trenchers during the season to develop an opinion before buying a machine that you may hate later? Just my thought. I don't install irrigation, and I don't pretend to want to. We have a whole division that loves to do that.

04-16-2002, 08:51 AM
FINALLY!!!!!!!!!! Some interest in the irrigation threads. What a shame it took an "almost" argument to get the interest going. I don't think there is anything to add to any of your statements. So, for once in my live I will abstain and wait for the next battle.

Seriously though, the irrigation business has been very good to me, accidentally. I don't think very many people grow up and say, "I want to be an irrigation contractor because I enjoy people calling me on Sunday on my emergency line only to ask when you can come out to do an estimate to add 4 plants to their drip system".. There are many plusses and many minuses to this as a business. Most of the plusses have just started to show their mugs after all these years and the minuses are still around and growing in size also.

Think long and hard about any business venture or menu item you add to your repertoire because you will have to live with your choices.

My advice to any who want to be a "sprinkler guy", is simple. Do small repairs, hire a pro to do the large ones, learn from him if he will let you (i would help if I liked the guy), as you learn do more stuff. BUT, AND I MEAN BUT, if you are going to add irrigation to an already busy schedule, forget it unless you can devote every waking hour to it. There is a lot to be learned and most of it isn't in books. It's called experience.

Good luck to all, HB and I will be writing a book with a special foreward by Dana Mac.........soon as we have time! Look for it!

By the way Dana? You aren't concerned with the competition right? Especially a dummy from AZ who doesn't know what compressed air is!

04-16-2002, 09:02 AM
Tony - there is always enough work here if you know what you're doing and you efinitely do. I could have turned this into a big company if I'd wanted to. But I don't. I just beat out my previous employer (the one who taught me irrigation) ona a 10 zone system. And I was $500 MORE expensive than him. He told me he didn't hit it off with the guy though.

Blowing out a system is easy. And by the way, our forecast is crap. Snow Saturday/Sunday. Lows in the mid to low 20s and I have tons of systems up and going. I may cancel Friday and call everybody in a panic to turn it off and drain. But lots of them don't know how. That's why I've already repaired it this spring.

04-16-2002, 09:24 AM
Yeah I saw the forecast.........welcome to the neighborhood. Your last 3 days have been very fine though. More to come, hopefully.

Thanks for the support. I'm sure it will be a learning curve but at least I have a little background. I will be hitting you up for the ridealong sometime the first 1/2 of may.

By the way, I am having a truck-unloading party on April 19th. It is an allday event. all are welcome!

05-06-2002, 11:03 PM

05-14-2002, 09:24 AM
i just added irrigation repair as a service to my existing customers i dont know how to charge so i guess.So far ive done two jobs and hit two main water lines and made 4 trips to get parts to repair.One was tree roots wedged between the irrig and main line it had to be broke to fix but i losed money the other i thought was a bad solenoid turned out whoever installed system used telephone wire and the water line going to the valve was 2 inches deep i now carry parts to fix main line.I do not wish to install just repair breaks etc i have worked for a couple irrig companys 15-20 years ago i mow a yard next door to a brain surgeon when i get the yard ill see if i can get pricing.unless you want to learn the hard way losing money id stay out of it